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National Preparedness Month: Winter Weather

(U.S. Air Force graphic/Staff Sgt. Debbie Lockhart)

(U.S. Air Force graphic/Staff Sgt. Debbie Lockhart)

SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- "When I left [the house] it was dry and you could see a little snow swirling around, but it wasn't sticking at that time. Then it started," said Sheila Thomas, 50th Network Operations Group exercises and readiness chief.

Thomas found herself in the unenviable position of spending the night in her office during the winter of 2006, as what started as a mild snow built into a blizzard in a matter of hours. The storm forced Schriever Air Force Base leadership to call for road condition "Black," closing the base to all vehicular traffic.

"We ended up staying here all that day, evening and into the next day," Thomas said. "I ended up sleeping on two chairs with my coat."

At the time, there was a bus route that ran from Colorado Springs to Schriever. Thomas decided to take the bus that day because the forecast called for snow. Unfortunately, the roads became so dangerous the bus couldn't make it back to the base.

"The bus was a good avenue to get home because then you didn't have to drive and [the bus drivers] were more experienced," Thomas said. "It got so bad that the bus didn't come back."

By the time Thomas found a ride home, the roads were closed and she ended up spending the night in her office at the command post.

"My boss at the time lived by me and said he'd give me a ride home," she said. "Then he got busy because it was really crazy in the command post, where I was working, and by the time he was able to leave they had closed the roads."

Luckily most of the dining facility employees were stranded as well, so at least they had a decent meal, Thomas joked.

Bradley Road was clear enough to let traffic through by the following afternoon, so Thomas was able to get a ride to her housing development. Even then, she found herself in a predicament as the road leading to her cul de sac was still snowed in.

"We were able to get to my housing development, but it had snowed so bad and drifted that he couldn't take me to my door," Thomas said. "I lived about a mile in and I didn't have boots on."

Thomas' story illustrates the importance of being prepared for all weather conditions. As National Preparedness Month and America's PrepareAthon! come to a close, the Schriever Emergency Management Office wants base personnel to begin preparing for the winter season and know that they can help with preparedness.

"[We're here] to make sure the base is prepared to handle any disaster, man-made or natural," said Senior Airman La Kirsten Burton, 50th Civil Engineer Squadron readiness and emergency management specialist. "We're here so everyone can be prepared. Some people may not know what to do."

One of the most basic steps people can take to be prepared, according to ready.gov, is to have an emergency kit.

"We tell people to have three days' worth of supplies to include water, canned goods, a can opener, flashlight and extra batteries, portable radio with extra batteries and any prescription medications," Burton said.

Thomas said she tries to make sure she gets gas in her vehicle and goes to the grocery store when she sees snow in the forecast. She also keeps a blanket and good winter boots in her car, as well as some supplies in her office, just in case.

"I try to be more cognizant of how the weather is and having people that are in Colorado Springs proper and ask them what the weather is like there," she said.

Stay tuned for more information on how Schriever will conduct snow call this season. For more information, visit www.ready.gov, or call 567-6100.
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